July 11, 2012

'I've never wanted to prove anything to anyone'

Interview by Sai Mohapatra
Sachin Tendulkar talks about the year ahead for India, and the need to stay in love with the game

You are not part of the squad that is going to Sri Lanka. Are you at a stage where you can actually pick and choose between series, looking at the kind of workload you are in for - big series coming up next, England and Australia?
No. I basically requested the BCCI that I wanted to spend some time with my family. That's the only reason I'm not going. This is school holiday time for my children. I don't get to spend much time with them. Looking at the rest of the calendar, it becomes difficult, and to match that with them bunking school to spend time with me… And after this for about next ten months they will not be able to spend enough time with me. So I made a request for a break.

After the World Cup you said you don't have any batting aspirations anymore. Don't you want to prove anything to anyone?
I never wanted to prove anything to anyone ever. Not that it is only post-World Cup, because that would send wrong signals. I never thought I am out here to prove anything to anyone, but yes, one big target was winning the World Cup. Other than that my only aim was to enjoy the game of cricket. I have grown up playing cricket. I haven't done anything else in my life from a professional point of view. Cricket has been my life, my passion. I just want that to continue.

You have pretty much ticked all the boxes - part of a World Cup-winning squad, India winning series abroad... A phase for you to now go out and just enjoy yourself and nothing else?
Yes. Even while doing that - playing cricket in various countries - I had fun, but when you win it gets even sweeter.

You take a lot of pride in playing for your nation. I have that terrific feeling and privilege of playing for India for the last 23 years and it's been a fantastic journey. I have no complaints at all. There have been ups and downs, and it makes you a better and strong person, it teaches you so many things in life around cricket, just as a person.

There has been an evolution in your batting, from an ultra-aggressive batsman to controlled aggression. Are there times when you think of possibly going back to some of your best years - 1998 etc - and telling yourself "I want to live that life all over again"? Deep down is there an internal competition there?
Yes, every season you always feel towards the start of the season: How do I approach the season? What is it that I can bring to the team? And this year it's no different. Always I want to do something special with the bat and to do something which I look back at after a few years and say, "Yes the season was a great one."

For any player who has played for 23 years, there are several impediments - injury, loss of form, lack of motivation, fatigue. What do you reckon you need, to be able to be at the top of your game? What is that you need to guard against?
In my case, lack of motivation was never a problem. I can't speak for anyone else. From a cricketer's point of view, you've got to be madly in love with cricket. Once cricket has started from your heart - for first it needs to have a solid foundation in your heart - and gradually from that solid foundation I believe you start building as you grow up, start playing more matches, play better standard of cricket; then gradually it finds its way to your brain and you start figuring out how to score runs and how to take wickets. But if cricket is not in your heart then results are not that great.

Rahul Dravid quit recently, and before that some of your contemporaries like Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly quit too, leaving you in a situation where you play with a number of youngsters. How important is it for you to invest in relationships, to get partnerships going with them?
It's important to know each other's nature, each other's personality, how they react to various situations, and it only helps when you have made an understanding in guiding each other when you are batting. You need that guidance, good communication, to build partnerships. And it is there. I have played with the current lot for some time, and there was one stage when I was already a part of the Indian team for six years when Rahul and Sourav joined me. So in every generation this process has to take place. I can say that I have played with all of them, so that understanding is very much there.

VVS Laxman and you are perhaps the last two remaining of that old school, for whom Test cricket is top priority. When you look at the current lot, who do you reckon the responsibility lies on to take your legacy forward?
To make someone like Test cricket, it has to [come from] within. There is no set formula that you have to do certain things and then you start liking Test cricket. I grew up dreaming about playing for India - that was the biggest thing I wanted to achieve: to play Test cricket for India and to do well. Every practice session I went out, I was prepared to work as hard as any of my coaches wanted me to; the only thing I wanted was an India cap. If anyone is prepared to do that, I would love to have him in my team.

"Always I want to do something special with the bat and to do something which I look back at after a few years and say, "Yes the season was a great one"

Yes, maybe there are individuals around who feel, "If I don't play Test cricket I don't miss much." You need not force them into [something] they don't want to be. If someone wants to be [in Test cricket] then he will find his way, will be ready to push himself as hard as anyone to realise his dreams. I don't like to push someone to like Test cricket and make him like Test cricket forcibly. I would just keep those two individuals separate.

More than the talk about having a batting vacuum once you and Laxman eventually quit, possibly a bigger problem for India is not having a great bowling combination. You need a pack of bowlers who can consistently take 20 wickets to win you matches. Isn't that the bigger challenge for India?
Yes, to win matches outside, you need an all-round good side. You need to, for sure, pick up 20 wickets. You might not have to use 20 wickets while batting to win matches but you have to pick up 20 wickets while bowling - there is no short cut, no option. All I can say is that it just can't be good batting and bad bowling and vice versa. Also, backed by good fielding.

I remember we played a Test match in Zimbabwe in 2001-02, and we won, in Bulawayo, where not a single hundred was scored, not a single five-wicket haul was taken by any of our bowlers, so that was a clear-cut indication of good team work. So in all departments you need to make sure you have done your job.

Everybody is waiting for another debut for you - as a Member of Parliament. How are you looking at that responsibility? You have always stayed away from controversy - no distractions, only focused on your cricket. But if at all it comes to taking up a stand, be it political or otherwise, are you in a position to do that?
I look at it as an honour - it's a nomination; I have not fought an election. When your name gets nominated by the president of India… I have been nominated because of my contribution to cricket for the last 22 years, which has brought me here. I cannot ignore that all of a sudden. I am an active cricketer, I will be focused on cricket. But when the time is right I will look into all those things.

This is something new to me. It's not that I will overnight bring in a lot of changes and be involved in various things. I don't want to give that impression to anyone. I will be focused on cricket for sure.

Up next are two big-ticket series - England's and Australia's tours of India, and New Zealand's tour of India before that. With a good show at home, India realistically has a great chance of regaining the No. 1 ranking. How much does becoming No. 1 again mean to you?
We can't get that far ahead and start thinking of being No. 1 again. Yes, everyone wants to be No. 1 but there are certain steps that you need to take. You can't forget the process. First we play New Zealand, so we are going to be focusing only on New Zealand and nothing else. And then the England and Australia series. We can't jump to the month of March; that way you lose your focus.

To be focused on the present is the most important factor, and that is what not only me but the entire team would want - to achieve those results which will make us smile. Everyone is expecting that we will give our best, entertain everyone with good competitive cricket.

This interview was conducted in Herzogenaurach, Germany, at the headquarters of Adidas, where Tendulkar placed the shoes he wore during his 100th century in the Adidas walk of fame

Sai Mohapatra works with ESPN Sportscenter in India

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kunal on July 14, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    @praveensorry dint understand ur complete picture but if u r accepting scores why not the last 7 of both instead of 10 for RP and 7 for ST ll tell u why because if u just take cb series for both and not purposely the south africa series to bolster his average(rp). LETS TALK JUST CB SERIES RP AVERAGE IS 3 u cant expect any one to be in team just with an average of 3 SACHINS average is 20.42 bad but still better .if u take the asia cup its 52,114,6,39,14,22 an average of 35 acceptable(not flawless though) he appeared in good touch especially against the run chase with a quick 50 against PAK. coming and going isint a sign of a legend .But perhaps gearing up for a hectic season which is more important. If he plays a series ,its said that he is not giving chances to youngsters but if he comes and goes it is said that being picky isint good.So either ways he is being blamed .

  • Praveen on July 14, 2012, 14:40 GMT

    coolindianfan ...You come and go and not sure till when you play, is that a character of a legend??

  • Praveen on July 14, 2012, 11:36 GMT

    @coolindianfan on (July 14 2012, 09:50 AM GMT)....praveen4honestremark on (July 12 2012, 10:07 AM GMT) Scores of Sachin in last ODI series, CB series played in Australia: 2, 48, 15, 3, 22, 14, 39 (Avg20.42). Sachin didn't played 3rd ODI so overall that's the average of last 7 ODI's Scores of Ricky ponting in last 10 ODI's as mentioned by @Sameer_Tatake : 0,31,63,10,11,2,1,6,2,7.(Avg 13.3) If RP was out becoz of poor form what did SRT so much to stay in team????? His average is 20.42 Now compare centuries of Sachin and Ponting when both are at almost at same score and balls too and ended differently SRT 65* (87b) to 114(147) SR= 77.05 against Bangladesh(Asia cup2012) RP 66*( 86b) to 104(118) SR = 88.13 against India(WC2011) India is better ranked than Bangladesh as we all know..I think you saw this post of mine earlier. I was literally not comparing, son don't just feel i was deceiving. I just was trying to show Sachin as bad too, because i could only get 7 innings i posted them.

  • Praveen on July 14, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    @coolindianfan on ...I got myself Scores of Sachin from criciinfo in last ODI series, CB series played in Australia: 2, 48, 15, 3, 22, 14, 39 (Avg20.42) it is not 23 a u mention please check yourself. Sachin didn't play 3rd ODI.But Scores of Ricky Ponting were given by @Sameer_Tatake 0,31,63,10,11,2,1,6,2,7.(Avg 13.3) . I mentioned last 7 innings of Sachin and 10 innings of Ricky, and it was not a perfect comparison i wanted to do nor i do wanted to cheat or deceive anyone. .Yes, Don't take Ricky average into account, just say one thing, is 20.42 average in 7 matches is enough for him to claim his place after he comes back? As simple as that .And one more question , where is scope of improvement if you skip tours and team order spoils . You come and go and not sure till when you play, is that a character of a legend??

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    @ praveen4honestremark for any statistical analysis u need a sufficiently big sample space 7 performance in 1 CB series is way too small a sample space to make judjement on................U must take at least 20 innings to make decision on ........................If u take past 20 ODI innings for Sachin then his avg is 39 at a SR of 85 with 3 100s and 3 50s..................which is way better that Dravid's overall record and certainly among top 3 indian batsmen in past 2 yrs...........................Sachin's bad patches are ever better than avg players overall records..................Sachin's selfish innings are at a better S/R than avg players fully commited innings..............That is the competency of Sachin

  • kunal on July 14, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    dude ricky poinitng last 7 scores were like (1 to 7) 10,11,2,1,6,2,7 40 runs in 7 matches an average of just over 5 more so in cb series it is 18 runs in 5 matches an average of 3 and not 13.3 ,where the hell did u get ur stats from. plz look into cricinfo and dont lie and deceive people .More worrying was the manner in which he was batting .these are numbers not even the die hard fans can defend his selection after such performance . sachin as has an average of 23(160 runs in 7 matches) , bad but better then Pointing then by miles. "his image and also was cause of many losses for his records and was also incapable to adjust for team and think for the team." In my early post I have mentioned the Team work he did .It is not up tp the level of Kumble,Dravid and Kapil but u cant call him selfish just for that.His leaving odis is a chance for youngsters to grab but if no one grabs it is it sachins fault ? He averages well against Sri lanka and could have very well used the opportunity

  • Praveen on July 14, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    @coolindianfan You are mistaken if u are feeling that i am not giving any credit for Sachin. I have been saying that SRT is a great player, playing and scoring so many and also it helped India, but he has damaged his image and also was cause of many losses for his records and was also incapable to adjust for team and think for the team. Let's see his performance in the CB series 2012. In this ODI's he has an average of 20.42 in last 7 games he played( 3rd ODI missed, it's not counted here).If Ricky ponting was removed for if he had 13.3 as avg then is Sachin average so good so that he can be retained in ODI format??? His pick and choose policy is very much as cause of worry for team.He has left many matches in ONE YEAR. Telling it was just to give chance for youngsters he left ODI is crap.He will come back again to enter team even with this mediocre average . Want to play again, then if Rahane plays with even avg 21, SRT is out, is that ok? How is his consciousnesses allowing him?

  • kunal on July 13, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    @ praveen4honestremark why r u talking as if for a Sachin fan like me cricket starts and ends at sachin. Dravid as a team man has done too much and I give full credit to him for that .Its a sad fact that India as a country hasent given him enough credit. .There are others as well like Kapil and Ganguly whose work has gone beyond the role of just being a batsmen . ". But what after all when he haven't played when India needed him, even that's my point" India always needed him its just that when sachin plays well we take it for granted and we feel that He played when there was no actual need of sachin .But Sachin as a batsmen has done India proud as well and it would be wrong not to give him credit as well. Sachin has also done some team work like shaping Yuvrajs career on and off the field .He purposely rested in odis after 200 vs south africa ,for almosrt a year for the team to carry on experimenting. He dropeed himself to 4 when Saurav and Sehwag used to open. And before wc 07

  • Praveen on July 13, 2012, 15:07 GMT

    @jb633 on (July 13 2012, 12:29 PM GMT)....Rightly said. Dravid was always player who made things quite easy for others and people who live in dreams just feel it's what is Sachin's greatness. Let them dream like that. They are happy the same way.

  • Satyajit on July 13, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    @praveen4honestremark, you are making some strange suggestions. The best forward in a soccer team need not grab the chance to become goal keeper for the team :-) In fact a good team (and it's coach, capatain) should try to utilize the player's strength to the fullest. You play with your strengths not with your weaknesses. Some people give the example of Dravid when he additionally took up wicket keeper role in ODI. It started at a time when his batting record (avg and strike rate) was not exciting and team mgt felt he has to take up additional responsibility to keep his place. Dravid did that and in fact played so well that after a while his position as a batsman was no more in question in the shorter version. You also seem to forget, Sachin was fairly successful bowler even five years back for the team and even now when he fields he isn't a laggard. There are few junior folks (like Ashwin and Munaf) who are much worse fielders.

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